I was a person who didn’t like camping, and if you presented me with an outhouse, I would always hold it in until a clean bathroom was an option. My preference was soft, double-ply toilet paper—preferably with a bear on the wrapping telling me I was doing a great job. And then I went on the television show Survivor.
The most common question I get about being on the show is: “Where did you go to the bathroom?!” On Survivor 33: Millennials Vs. GenX, I spent 39 days fighting, not eating, and maneuvering my way through a complicated game of social dynamics—but more importantly, I spent 39 days going to the bathroom outside.
The first time I peed in the sand, it was awkward and disorienting: I definitely thought, there’s no way I can do this for a week, let alone the amount of time it would be if I did well in this game. By midway through the season, this changed: I was enjoying the breeze on my butt; the leaves I would use were big and soft; and the freedom to go wherever lifted a burden off my chest. The whole cast got a little too comfortable, in fact. We even got scolded by Survivor production: They had begun stepping in our poop while setting up interviews. We were supposed to designate a specific area for number two, but apparently our cast was going everywhere.
As the game ramped up, the outdoor bathroom element became second nature. One time, I was having a strategic conversation and loudly said I had to pee. I took 10 steps to my left and made the camera guy and the dude I was talking to turn away while I went, then went back to the conversation without missing a beat. Another time, I walked in on my competitor “Aqua Dumping” (pooping in the ocean), and he yelled at me as if I had swung the door open of an actual bathroom.
Here, five other Survivor contestants share their funniest, strangest, and even their near-deadliest stories of going to the bathroom on the show.
Elaine Stott, Survivor 39: Island of The Idols
‘In the moment, it was terrifying.’
“The single most (by far) asked question about my time on Survivor is about going to the bathroom. It’s crazy to me that out of everything we go through on the show that T1 and T2 [codes for using the bathroom on Survivor] are the hot topics of discussion. For those people who want to know, you ‘go’ where you feel comfortable.
“Some people from my season only went T2 on the land and would never go in the ocean to do their business. I, on the other hand, preferred to aqua dump! Let’s just say there’s a lot less clean up when you go in the water, and a lot less work, really. No looking for leaves or digging holes—’work smarter, not harder’ is what I always say. There are downsides to going T2 in the water, however. One, you are going to get wet, and two, if you underestimate the importance of the tides, you may find yourself in a bit of a jam.
“Like everything else in my life, there’s a lesson I learned the hard way. Winning rewards is great, but doing so plays havoc on your stomach. After winning pizza at a reward challenge, I found myself paying the price for over-indulging. It wasn’t long after, I was running for the ocean to relieve myself without any time to spare. The old saying, ‘when you gotta go, you gotta go,’ is an understatement in times like that.
“Just as I dropped my drawers to do my business, a huge wave crashed into me, knocking me off my feet. All at once, I was swept out to sea with my britches around my ankles. Funny now, but in the moment, it was terrifying. I’m sure it was a sight to see, my bare ass rolling around in the waves trying not to drown. Just before being washed out to sea forever, I managed to grab a huge rock and held on for dear life. As I clung onto that rock, all I could think about was how the producers were going to have to break the news to Jeff [Probst] and explain to him just how I died. I literally laughed out loud thinking, leave it to the dumbass redneck to die taking a shit!! Needless to say, I avoided death with my cat-like reflexes and managed to get myself back to the shore safely. I never underestimated the importance of knowing what tide it was again.”
Kara Kay, Survivor 37: David Vs. Goliath
‘Did you know that Fiji offers a species of leaf with the consistency of a peach fuzz?’
“Honestly, some of the most enjoyable bathroom experiences for me happened on Survivor. Right now, society has deemed toilet paper the most necessary item on the essentials list, but I think we’ve got it all wrong. Did you know that Fiji offers a species of leaf with the consistency of a peach fuzz? That was my go-to on land. Charmin has nothing on this velvety foliage.
“After we merged to 13 people left in the game, life got taken to the next level. Our beach offered this cove about half a mile down from where our camp was located and MAN, WAS IT DREAMY! I usually waited until night time to stroll down the moonlit beach to my beloved commode cove and would do my business at the space where the tide just politely touched the sand and acted as a natural bidet while I stared at the Fijian hillside. I mean, there’s a solid chance my bathroom experience will never be that exciting again in my life and that’s just something I’ll have to live with.”
Zeke Smith, Survivor 33: Millennials Vs. GenX
‘I just stepped in my poop.’
“I hadn’t pooped in five days. The excitement of embarking upon Survivor … and the drastic change in my diet locked up my bowels. Then, one night, sound sleep in the sand by the fire, I awoke to a rollin’ in my colon. I made for the beach—or as it’s known on Survivor, The Bathroom. Our camp was set back into the jungle, up a small hill, and I knew I didn’t have the three minutes it would take to get to the sand. Five days of back-logged-butt-logs was coming, and coming fast. So, I dashed into a patch of tall grass abutting our camp and dropped my pants just in time. The deep darkness provided me cover, but I was probably pooping about 20 feet away from my sleeping tribe-mates.
“Once finished, I grabbed a handful of the leafy green grass and wiped as best I could. As I stood up, I lost my balance. My left foot stepped back to stabilize me and landed in something…warm. Oh Madonna, I just stepped in my poop and now it was on my sock and hem of my pant. I scraped my heel in the dirt, doing my best impression of a dog wiping shit off its paws and coated the affected areas in hand sanitizer. But in the dark, with no other resources or supplies—and no second pair of clothes to change into—there was nothing more I could do. We had no blankets, and it was too cold to sleep without a sock or pants.
“So, I went back to my patch of sand by the fire, curled up, and slept with poop on my foot.”
Rick Devens, Survivor 38: Edge of Extinction
‘I was pooping within feet of hunting sharks.’
“On season 38 of Survivor, I spent 38 days competing against strangers on an island in Fiji. The weirdest part, by far, was going #2. There are no bathrooms and no toilet paper. Our tribe designated a small cove on the island as the bathroom area. Every morning thousands of minnows would flood into the cove, pushed by the current.
“I subscribed to the ‘aqua-dump’ method of using the bathroom. That’s when you walk into the ocean, do your business in the water, then clean up in the water. One shop stop. When you’re doing your business in a pool full of minnows, it creates quite a stir. It also attracts the attention of black-tip sharks. These 4-foot-long sharks would hunt the minnows just steps away from where I was doing business. I was pooping within feet of hunting sharks while enjoying a view of gorgeous Fijian islands and the Pacific Ocean. That’s better than being on the toilet with an i-pad, or even the latest copy of Men’s Health magazine.”
Troyzan Robertson, Survivor 24: One World & Survivor 34: Game Changers
‘They were swarming me like I was breakfast for them.’
“On my first season (One World), I wasn’t sure how the dumping was going to go without toilet paper. On day one I tried the normal ‘did a hole in the jungle…go…and then leaf wipe,’ but a leaf is THE WORST! Terrible mess. It’s not even close to being anything like TP! Zero absorption factor, plus no traction at all. If you get my drift.
“So I decided to just go into the water without actually knowing at the time that most Survivors were calling it the infamous ‘Aqua dump.’ I basically woke up one morning and saw my buddy Jonas [Otsuji] walking through the water buck naked. I wasn’t sure why he was completely naked, but he expressed to me that it was a lot easier to dump with no clothes on. I decided to follow suit and strip everything off in order to not get my clothes wet or have any smatterings of fecal matter clinging to my clothes. Gnarly!
“As I was in full squat doing my business for the first time on the island … I noticed a crap-load of fish circling about. I realized that the fish actually were gathering around me as I was going. Feeding themselves on the particles. They were swarming me like I was breakfast for them.
“I know this sounds pretty nasty, but I thought, damn, if I can get another guy to grab a fish net while I dump….the fish will be in a feeding frenzy and we can catch ourselves a sweet meal every day! It worked like a charm! Lay out the net in a strategic matter, do my business in the water, wait for the fishies to gather ‘round … bam, lunch for the day!”